For up and coming Swedish rally driver Tobias Johansson, his 22nd birthday last Friday will be one he will never forget, as he was offered one of the biggest surprises of his career by his RallyTeam Olsbergs team manager G?ran Henriksson.

The young man is entered in his home FIA World Rally Championship event in a Toyota Corolla WRC, however his wish of a happy birthday was answered when he was advised he would instead be competing in the Swedish Rally in an M-Sport prepared Ford Focus RS WRC02.

"I still can't believe it! It was a complete surprise and I am so excited to not only be competing in my home rally, but in the Ford Focus. Many of the Focus' I have competed against in local and international rallies over the past two years will also be competing in the Swedish Rally this year and it will be fantastic to see how well we go against them in a comparable car," said Johansson, who will be partnered by co-driver Bo Holmstrand with whom he did the 2003 Wales Rally of GB.

The ultimate-specification Ford Focus RS WRC02 is currently being prepared at British-based motorsport specialist M-Sport, alongside ten other Focus which will take part in the Swedish Rally, the only true winter rally on the FIA's 2004 World Rally Championship calendar.

Tobias Johansson began his rallying career at just 14 years old, encouraged by his father, the renowned top Swedish driver Erik 'Eken' Johansson. The youngster has stamped his mark on the Swedish rally scene, proving to be a tough competitor in Group N in recent years.

It was at the beginning of 2003, when he signed with RallyTeam Olsbergs that his career took off, and he surprised even himself by winning his first outing in the Swedish Championship in a Corolla WRC. Consistently at the top of the leaderboard in his local events, Johansson has also had good results from his first World Rally Championship experiences in 2003, taking 13th overall in the Rally Finland and 12th over all at the Wales Rally GB.

"We competed in the 2003 Swedish Rally in a Mitsubishi Evo VII, however unfortunately retired on SS13. Despite not finishing last year, we have a good experience base to start from for this season. Our biggest challenge will be learning about the Ford Focus RS WRC02 and we will have the opportunity to test the weekend prior to the rally to get a feel for the car," said Johansson.



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